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Yesterday, I did something pretty drastic: I deleted the last 28 articles I’d published to Medium. These were longform pieces — most between 1,500 and 2,500 words — that required a lot of research and labor to write. They appeared first on my Substack newsletter as a benefit for paid subscribers, and then after about a month I’d republish them here.

My goals were twofold: First, I wanted to generate some additional revenue through Medium’s metered paywall. Second, I hoped to drive signups to my newsletter through a call-to-action at the bottom of the articles. …


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This audiobook studio turned The Martian into an international success

Why it’s interesting: You probably remember The Martian as a Matt Damon film, but a studio that specializes in adapting self-published ebooks into audiobooks is what put the story on the map.

The Athletic kept growing even without live sports

Why it’s interesting: Wow. The Athletic managed to get to 1 million paying subscribers during a pandemic when virtually no sports were being played.

Serial podcast sold to The New York Times

Why it’s interesting: Looks like The New York Times paid $25…


via Wiki Commons

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Newsrooms should enlist their reporters to sell subscriptions

Why it’s interesting: More newsrooms should brainstorm about how to get their reporters more involved in helping to push paid subscriptions, since in many cases those reporters have much deeper connection to the media outlet’s audience.

Bloomberg editor admonishes his journalists for publishing “boring and long” articles

Why it’s interesting: This is certainly an interesting way for an editor to begin a memo to his staff: “We are still publishing too many enterprise stories that are either mediocre…


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Howard Stern could soon face off with Joe Rogan in the podcast wars

Why it’s interesting: SiriusXM owns, like Spotify, virtually every part of the podcast stack. The question is whether it’s actually in a position to challenge Spotify for dominance in the space.

Don’t underestimate Spotify’s advertising revenue potential

Why it’s interesting: I think the argument in the below article underestimates how big the podcast advertising potential is for Spotify. Thus far, it hasn’t been able to put ads in front of its paying users…


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Why Barstool Sports pivoted to stock market trading

Why it’s interesting: “In only two months, [Barstool Sports’s] Davey Day Trader has become a more-searched term than Jim Cramer.”

Barstool’s pivot to stock market trading makes sense when you consider that stock trading is an elite form of gambling.

How musicians can grow their YouTube following

Why it’s interesting: Are you a musician who wants to grow an audience with online video? You better be ready to produce lots of song covers.

A cool story about a niche news startup

Why…


Public domain image from Pxhere

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Why publishers struggled to grow their native advertising operations

Why it’s interesting: Publishers can talk up the lofty editorial ambitions of branded content, but at the end of the day, those who call all the shots are still marketers and sales staff.

Bloomberg Media is much bigger than you think it is

Why it’s interesting: Bloomberg Media apparently has “2,700 reporters, editors, and analysts working in 120 bureaus around the world.”

Conde Nast has built out a large video and podcast apparatus

Why it’s interesting: Looks like Conde Nast has built up an impressive lineup of podcast…


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The myth of the creator who’s an “overnight success”

Why it’s interesting: A lot of times when you think a creator is an “overnight success,” it actually turns out they put in countless hours of work before they blew up.

Amazon is a secret media behemoth

Why it’s interesting: We don’t always think of Amazon as a media powerhouse, but think of all the media properties it owns: Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Twitch, Audible, Kindle publishing, and the Echo.

I’d buy…


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Original series are scoring some big wins on Snapchat

Why it’s interesting: “In the first quarter of 2020, more than 60 shows on Snapchat attracted at least 10 million unique viewers each month, compared to 50 shows in the fourth quarter of 2019.”

Facebook News is steering clear of horse race politics, for now

Why it’s interesting: “The most notable thing about Facebook News is that it includes almost none of the stories that do well on the rest of Facebook.”

Paid subscribers picked up during quarantine are churning at low rates

Why it’s interesting: Readers who subscribed…


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Ok, let’s jump right into it:

A BuzzFeed writer defects to Substack

Why it’s interesting: Defections like this are only going to become more common as star journalists realize they’re not benefiting from all the wealth they create for publishers.

Publishers are bypassing Amazon completely

Why it’s interesting: This has to be a pretty encouraging sign for those publishers that worry about Amazon’s control over affiliate fees. It’s becoming common to go around Amazon and forge direct relationships with product makers.

Medium launches newsletter functionality

Why it’s interesting…


In 2020, Netflix is projected to spend $17 billion on content. Disney will spend $24 billion and AT&T will shell out over $14 billion.

With all that money on the line, there’s an enormous amount of demand for new intellectual property that can be adapted into movies and TV shows, and a lot of that IP is being drawn directly from magazines. The Oscar-winning film Argo, for instance, is based on a 2007 Wired article, and the critically-acclaimed Netflix miniseries Unbelievable was sourced from a longform Propublica article published in 2015.

This rising demand means that Hollywood is throwing larger…

Simon Owens

Tech and media journalist. Email me: simonowens@gmail.com

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